scotch eggs

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I’m always hearing about people frying crazy things. There’s the twinkies, and the snickers bars, and now brownies. I had a fried oreo at a street fair in Manhattan, and it was delicious. Of course it was delicious – it’s a deep-fried oreo. It’s also kind of absurd.

Speaking of absurd, what about peeling a hard-boiled egg, covering it in sausage, breading it, and frying it? Oh, and then serving it for breakfast (alongside cake).

In the Scotch egg’s defense, my understanding is that these are pub fare in Scotland, and therefore probably not served for breakfast. Whatever, we ate them for breakfast, and we were happy.

My mom used to make these for brunch parties when I was a kid. When I asked her for the recipe, she gave me two and was wishy-washy on which she uses. I found two more and ended up with four similar but distinct recipes.

My biggest question concerned the sausage to egg ratio. My four recipes had four different ratios varying from 2 to 5 ounces of sausage per hard-boiled egg. I settled on three ounces, which ended up being pretty much perfect. Any more and the sausage would overwhelm the egg, but with much less, it would be difficult to evenly coat the egg.

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Each recipe had a different frying temperature as well, ranging from 325 to 375 degrees. I generally try to maintain an oil temperature between 350 and 375 degrees while deep-frying, and that worked perfectly here. Two recipes used fresh bread crumbs, one used cracker meal, one used dried bread crumbs. I used panko (Japanese coarse-grained dried bread crumbs) because it’s all I had, but I’m thinking fresh would work great as well.

So, there you go. Scotch eggs. Not very healthy, but really freakin’ good. Serve with beer! Or for breakfast! But probably don’t drink beer for breakfast. Ew.

Scotch Eggs

1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup (2½ ounces) unbleached flour
1 pound bulk sausage
2 cups breadcrumbs, either panko or fresh
5 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
vegetable or peanut oil for frying

Mix egg and mustard in a medium bowl to blend. Place flour in another bowl. Place breadcrumbs in another bowl. Roll 1 hard-boiled egg in flour. Using wet hands, press 1/5 of sausage around egg to coat. Roll sausage-covered egg in beaten egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs, covering completely and pressing to adhere. Place Scotch egg on plate. Repeat with remaining eggs. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Add enough oil to heavy large saucepan to reach depth of 1½ inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 360-370 °F. Add 3 prepared eggs to oil; fry until sausage is cooked through and coating is deep brown, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining 2 eggs. Serve warm.

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four soups

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I have backlog of soups to be blogged, so I’m going to throw them all into one soupfest entry.

First up is lentil soup, which I was excited about because I found the fancy French lentils, but it seems like I’m cursed to never quite have all the right ingredients for this soup. The first time I made it, I was entrenched in step 3, after the vegetables are softened and the lentils are darkened, adding the wine, and running out of wine. Eh. I played around with some other acidic ingredients, and ended up with a delicious but teensy bit vinegary soup. This time it was chicken broth that I ran out of. Chicken broth! I never run out of chicken broth! I carefully monitor my Better Than Bouillon supply because I loooove Better Than Bouillon. Bummer. I substituted some vegetable (not better than) bouillon. Still a damn good soup. And healthy! The only non-healthy item in the whole thing is a few slices of bacon. That’s nothing.

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Next up is white chicken chili. This is the second time I’ve made this recipe, and I seem to remember liking it more the first time. It was far from bad this time – look at all that flavory goodness, how could it be bad?

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I just didn’t feel excited about it. Maybe it would have been as simple as adding salt. Another possibility is that adding 50% more beans than the recipe called for made the soup a little bland. I will make it again, but it’s on trial.

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Poor cream of mushroom soup. It’s been relegated to nothing more than an ingredient in bad casseroles, so when I saw a recipe for the real deal, I did a double take. People actually eat mushroom soup? Unheard of! Dave and I are both big mushroom fans, so I was excited about this soup. Unfortunately, it just didn’t deliver. It wasn’t bad, it was just so dominated by pureed mushrooms. It was a little intense, even for mushroom lovers like us. Maybe because I used all cremini mushrooms instead of the button mushrooms that the recipe calls for? Whatever, next time I’ll be trying this highly recommended recipe.

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And finally, we have my favorite of these four soups. I served this hot and sour soup with the potstickers, which we’re a little crazy about, so this soup had a tough job standing up to that. But it holds it’s own, oh yes. I loved the moo shu I made a few weeks ago, and this has most of the same ingredients, but in soup form. I also really like when tofu is used in recipes where it’s actually the original ingredient, instead of covering for some maligned but more flavorful meat. Mmm, and black vinegar. This is good stuff. And I’m all about the texture that the cornstarch gives the soup. It doesn’t thicken it to a paste, it just provides a little body. The soup has so many strong and contrasting flavors, I just love it. And, it’s healthy! In fact, it’s so light, that I don’t know if I can recommend serving it as a meal on its own. I made the full recipe, we ate it with potstickers for two meals, and then we snacked on it throughout the week. I wasn’t complaining about having hot and sour soup around all week!

So there you have it – a January’s worth of soups. Yum!

Hearty Lentil Soup (from Cooks Illustrated)

Lentils du Puy, sometimes called French green lentils, are our first choice for this recipe, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too. Note that cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils used. Lentils lose flavor with age, and because most packaged lentils do not have expiration dates, try to buy them from a store that specializes in natural foods and grains. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles. The soup can be made in advance. After adding the vinegar in step 2, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot, then stir in the parsley.

Makes about 2 quarts, serving 4 to 6

3 slices bacon (about 3 ounces), cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped fine (about 1½ cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 cup lentils (7 ounces), rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon table salt
ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
4½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1½ cups water
1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Fry bacon in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer. Add chicken broth and water; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf.

2. Puree 3 cups soup in blender until smooth, then return to pot; stir in vinegar and heat soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with some of remaining parsley.

White Chicken Chili (from Cooks Illustrated)

Adjust the heat in this dish by adding the minced ribs and seeds from the jalapeño as directed in step 6. If Anaheim chiles cannot be found, add an additional poblano and jalapeño to the chili. This dish can also be successfully made by substituting chicken thighs for the chicken breasts. If using thighs, increase the cooking time in step 4 to about 40 minutes. Serve chili with sour cream, tortilla chips, and lime wedges.

Serves 6 to 8

3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves, trimmed of excess fat and skin
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 medium jalapeño chiles
3 poblano chiles (medium), stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
3 Anaheim chile peppers (medium), stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
2 medium onions, cut into large pieces (2 cups)
6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, white and light green parts sliced thin
1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until skin is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and lightly brown on other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; remove and discard skin.

2. While chicken is browning, remove and discard ribs and seeds from 2 jalapeños; mince flesh. In food processor, process half of poblano chiles, Anaheim chiles, and onions until consistency of chunky salsa, ten to twelve 1-second pulses, scraping down sides of workbowl halfway through. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining poblano chiles, Anaheim chiles, and onions; combine with first batch (do not wash food processor blade or workbowl).

3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from Dutch oven (adding additional vegetable oil if necessary) and reduce heat to medium. Add minced jalapeños, chile-onion mixture, garlic, cumin, coriander, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

4. Transfer 1 cup cooked vegetable mixture to now-empty food processor workbowl. Add 1 cup beans and 1 cup broth and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add vegetable-bean mixture, remaining 2 cups broth, and chicken breasts to Dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken registers 160 degrees (175 degrees if using thighs) on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes (40 minutes if using thighs).

5. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large plate. Stir in remaining beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, until beans are heated through and chili has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

6. Mince remaining jalapeño, reserving and mincing ribs and seeds (see note above), and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding bones. Stir shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, scallions, and remaining minced jalapeño (with seeds if desired) into chili and return to simmer. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

Per Serving:
Cal 370; Fat 6 g; Sat fat 1 g; Chol 115 mg; Carb 25 g; Protein 52 g; Fiber 7 g; Sodium 710 mg

Creamy Mushroom Soup (from Cooks Illustrated)

To make sure that the soup has a fine, velvety texture, puree it hot off the stove, but do not fill the blender jar more than halfway, as the hot liquid may cause the lid to pop off the jar.

Makes 8 cups, serving 6 to 8

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large shallots, minced (about 3/4 cup)
2 small cloves garlic, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, freshly grated
2 pounds white button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3½ cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups hot water
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed well
1/3 cup dry sherry or Madeira
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
Table salt and ground black pepper

Sauteed Wild Mushroom Garnish (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms or chanterelle, oyster, or cremini mushrooms, stems
trimmed and discarded, mushrooms wiped clean and sliced thin
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. Melt butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-low heat; when foaming subsides, add shallots and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and nutmeg; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Increase heat to medium; add sliced mushrooms and stir to coat with butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release liquid, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and mushrooms have released all liquid, about 20 minutes. Add chicken stock, water, and porcini mushrooms; cover and bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms are fully tender, about 20 minutes longer.

2. Pour soup into a large bowl. Rinse and dry Dutch oven. Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth, filling blender jar only halfway for each batch. Return soup to Dutch oven; stir in Madeira and cream and bring to simmer over low heat. Add lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with sauteed mushroom garnish, if desired. (Can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated up to 4 days.) If making ahead, add cream at serving time.

3. For the Sauteed Wild Mushroom Garnish (optional): Heat butter in medium skillet over low heat; when foam subsides, add mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid, about 10 minutes for shiitakes and chanterelles, about 5 minutes for oysters, and about 9 minutes for cremini. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid released by mushrooms has evaporated and mushrooms are browned, about 2 minutes for shiitakes, about 3 minutes for chanterelles, and about 2 minutes for oysters and cremini. Sprinkle a portion of mushrooms over individual bowls of soup and serve.

Hot and Sour Soup (from Cooks Illustrated)

To make slicing the pork chop easier, freeze it for 15 minutes. We prefer the distinctive flavor of Chinese black vinegar; look for it in Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find it, a combination of red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar approximates its flavor. This soup is very spicy. For a less spicy soup, omit the chili oil altogether or add only 1 teaspoon.

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

7 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch, plus an additional 1 1/2 teaspoons
1 boneless, center-cut, pork loin chop (1/2 inch thick, about 6 ounces), trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch by 1/8-inch matchsticks
3 tablespoons cold water, plus 1 additional teaspoon
1 large egg
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup bamboo shoots (from one 5-ounce can), sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips
4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1 cup)
5 tablespoons black Chinese vinegar or 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (see note above)
2 teaspoons chili oil (see note above)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 medium scallions, sliced thin

1. Place tofu in pie plate and set heavy plate on top. Weight with 2 heavy cans; let stand at least 15 minutes (tofu should release about ½ cup liquid). Whisk 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in medium bowl; toss pork with marinade and set aside for at least 10 minutes (but no more than 30 minutes).

2. Combine 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water in small bowl and mix thoroughly; set aside, leaving spoon in bowl. Mix remaining ½ teaspoon cornstarch with remaining 1 teaspoon water in small bowl; add egg and beat with fork until combined. Set aside.

3. Bring broth to boil in large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; add bamboo shoots and mushrooms and simmer until mushrooms are just tender, about 5 minutes. While broth simmers, dice tofu into ½-inch cubes. Add tofu and pork, including marinade, to soup, stirring to separate any pieces of pork that stick together. Continue to simmer until pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.

4. Stir cornstarch mixture to recombine. Add to soup and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens and turns translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in vinegar, chili oil, pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce; turn off heat.

5. Without stirring soup, use soupspoon to slowly drizzle very thin streams of egg mixture into pot in circular motion. Let soup sit 1 minute, then return saucepan to medium-high heat. Bring soup to gentle boil, then immediately remove from heat. Gently stir soup once to evenly distribute egg; ladle into bowls and top with scallions.

Per Serving:
Cal 120; Fat 5 g; Sat fat 1 g; Chol 12 mg; Carb 12 g; Protein 8 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 1110 mg

two dips

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This post comes too late. Two days ago, everyone was planning their snacks for the Superbowl. Today, we’re recovering from overeating, overdrinking, and how did the Giants beat the Patriots? But I think these dishes have their place on any day. Now that I’ve tried them myself and can attest to their success, I offer them to you.

First, a dip for crudite that is healthy and tasty. I am not one to sacrifice flavor to make low-fat dishes; I’d rather eat less of great food than more of subpar food. But if I can get great flavor and good nutrition in one dish, I won’t complain. Most dips use mayonnaise and sour cream as a base – two foods that are almost pure fat. This dip uses pureed cottage cheese as a base, plain yogurt for acidity, and a (relatively) small amount of mayonnaise for tartness. The star of the show is sundried tomatoes, with garlic singing backup. It was a really great dip – I was surprised that we ate that whole plate of vegetables.

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The other dip I have to offer is a chemical-free queso. My favorite queso recipe used to be 8 ounces of Velveeta + 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup + 1 can of Ro-tel tomatoes. However, I am now adverse to processed foods. Why eat “cheese product” when I can eat cheese? So I set out to make queso reminiscent of my favorite recipe, but without the processed ingredients. It was easy cheesy. (Heehee.) Same taste, real food. Gotta love that.

If you want to add interest to your vegetables, or enjoy chips with spicy melted cheese goodness, but don’t want to compromise your health, you have two new options.

Sun-dried Tomato Dip (adapted from epicurious)

Makes about 2 cups

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
¼ teaspoon salt
12 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1 cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise

Place garlic in dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty golden brown. Remove peels and discard. Mince garlic in food processor with salt. Add tomatoes and process until chopped. Add cottage cheese and process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process to blend. Season with salt. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.)

Serve with vegetables.

Queso

Makes about 2 cups

The jalapeno could be added with the tomatoes, or with the butter. I wasn’t sure how spicy the dip would be without it, so I waited until the end to add it.

Cheddar adds flavor but can be grainy when melted. Monterey jack cheese melts smoothly.

1 tablespoon butter
1½ tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 (10-ounce) can Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
¼ teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno, minced

Melt butter over medium heat. Once it foams, whisk in flour. Whisk constantly for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in milk. Bring mixture to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes and chiles and bring to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until cheese melts. Serve with tortilla chips.

potstickers

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I am not good at timing my cooking. I had grand plans for these potstickers to be part of an all day sporadic eating event during the NFL championship games. We’d eat potstickers in the first game, hot and sour soup at the beginning of the second game, and dessert sometime later. But my timing is so bad that I ended up sitting down with a plate full of potstickers right during halftime of the first game. Boring!

My plan got another wrench thrown in it after our first plate of potstickers, when we looked at each other and both said “we want more!” It’s always like that when I make potstickers – neither of us can ever get enough!

Another thing that’s great about potstickers is that they adapt to your schedule. You can make the filling and then forget about it until you’re ready, even if it isn’t until the next day. You can fill the potstickers and then forget about them for months! This time, I filled enough for our first serving, and then filled some more when we decided that we absolutely had to have more. I left the rest of the filling in the fridge overnight, formed more dumplings the next afternoon, and steamed them when we wanted to eat dinner. I was planning on freezing some for later, but it was clear early on that that wasn’t happening.

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And you know what else? They’re actually healthy. Look at those ingredients – 3 cups minced cabbage, scallions, egg whites. Two tablespoons of oil in the whole thing, and to be honest, you won’t need that much with a good nonstick pan. I bet I only used a few teaspoons. So we can eat all we want!

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Pork and Cabbage Dumplings – Wor Tip (from Cooks Illustrated)

We prefer to use gyoza wrappers. You can substitute wonton wrappers, but the cooking time in step 4 will be reduced from 10 minutes to 5 or 6 minutes and note that the yield will increase to 40 potstickers (see chart below Step 4 for more information). These dumplings, also known as potstickers, are best served hot from the skillet; we recommend that you serve the first batch immediately, then cook the second batch. To freeze, place filled, uncooked dumplings in the freezer in a single layer on a plate until frozen, then transfer to a storage bag. There’s no need to thaw frozen dumplings; just proceed with the recipe.

Makes 24 dumplings, 6 first course servings

Filling
3 cups minced napa cabbage leaves (about ½ medium head)
¾ teaspoon table salt
¾ pound ground pork
4 minced scallions (about 6 tablespoons)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1½ teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Dumplings
24 round gyoza wrappers (see note)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water, plus extra for brushing
1. For the filling: Toss cabbage with the salt in colander set over a bowl and let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes. Press the cabbage gently with rubber spatula to squeeze out any excess moisture, the transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

2. For the dumplings: Working with 4 wrappers at a time (keep the remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap), follow the photos below to fill, seal, and shape the dumplings using a generous 1 teaspoon of the chilled filling per dumpling. Transfer the dumplings to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling; you should have about 24 dumplings. (The dumplings can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day, or frozen for up to 1 month. Once frozen, the dumplings can be transferred to a zipper-lock bag to save space in the freezer; do not thaw before cooking.)

3. Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels; set aside. Brush 1 tablespoon of the oil over the bottom of a 12-inch nonstick skillet and arrange half of the dumplings in the skillet, with a flat side facing down (overlapping just slightly if necessary). Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook the dumplings, without moving, until golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to low, add ½ cup of the water, and cover immediately. Continue to cook, covered, until most of the water is absorbed and the wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover the skillet, increase the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, without stirring, until the dumpling bottoms are well browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Slide the dumplings onto the paper towel-lined plate, browned side facing down, and let drain briefly. Transfer the dumplings to a serving platter and serve with scallion dipping sauce (see related recipe). Let the skillet cool until just warm, then wipe it clean with a wad of paper towels and repeat step 3 with the remaining dumplings, oil, and water.

Choosing the Right Wrap
Tasters preferred the slightly chewy texture of gyoza-style wrappers to thinner wonton wrappers, but both styles produced terrific potstickers. Although we developed our recipe using round wrappers, square or rectangular wrappers can be used as well. Here’s how to adjust filling amount and steaming time. Because the smaller wrappers yield more dumplings, you’ll need to cook them in multiple batches.

Instructions for different size wrappers:
Round gyoza (3¾ inches diameter), fill with 1 rounded tablespoon, steam for 10 minutes
Round wonton (3¾ inches diameter), fill with 1 rounded tablespoon, steam for 6 minutes
Square wonton (3 3/8 inches square), fill with 2 rounded teaspoons, steam for 6 minutes
Rectangular wonton (3¼ inches by 2¾ inches), fill with 1 rounded teaspoon, steam for 5 minutes

Scallion Dipping Sauce

The sauce can be refrigerated overnight.

Makes ¾ cup

¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 medium scallion , white and green parts, minced

Combine all ingredients in bowl and serve.

more fish from cans (deviled eggs with tuna)

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I know, I know, deviled eggs? Does anyone really need a recipe for deviled eggs, or a blog entry about them?

But, these have an extra ingredient that I assure you, makes a blog entry just for them worthwhile. (Plus, look how cute they are in pictures! They look like little boats from the side!)

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That ingredient is tuna. That’s right, we’re talking about good ol’ canned tuna. I recently heard a few people say that they don’t eat canned tuna, and, what?! Not eat canned tuna?! I looove canned tuna!

The first time a really remember eating it was a few years ago, when a friend brought me some fancy canned tuna from Spain. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but my friend encouraged me to just mix it up into tuna salad. (In retrospect, I should have just eaten it from the can.) I decided that an experiment was in order. Was expensive Spanish tuna worth the difference in price? So Dave and I did a side-by-side comparison of tuna salads made with the Spanish tuna and with StarKirst Solid White Albacore. (This is the brand recommended by Cooks Illustrated.)

In tuna salad, at least, the difference was minor. And since that test, I have become enamored with tuna salad sandwiches. It’s something that, for me, is best eaten at home, because I’ve gotten so picky about how it’s made. No celery or pickles, but enough minced red onion and parsley to make up for it.

There are a few tricks to getting the most from your tuna. First, drain the heck out of it. Then add salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and let that set while you prepare the other ingredients. This gives the tuna time to soak up those flavor-enhancers.

I made the filling for these deviled eggs very similar to how I make tuna salad, just leaving out minced red onion and of course adding the egg yolks. Best deviled eggs ever, I assure you!

One more thing – while I agree that a sprinkle of paprika adds some color to a deviled egg, I think a little minced something makes them just so cute. I used tomato in this case, but I think a purple olive like kalamata would look, and taste, great as well. (My husband does not agree that olives improve anything, hence the tomatoes in January.)

Deviled Eggs
Make 16 appetizers

1 6-ounce can tuna, preferably StarKist Solid White Albacore in Water
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced parsley
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ plum tomato, minced (optional)
4 kalamata olives, minced (optional)

1. Drain the tuna very well. Using a fork or your fingers, break up any large pieces. Add salt, pepper, parsley and mustard.

2. Cut each egg in half from pole to pole. Use a spoon to remove the yolk. Using a fork, mash the yolks well. Add to tuna mixture, then stir in mayonnaise.

3. Either spoon mixture into egg whites, or transfer mixture to a decorators bag or zip-top bag. If using a zip-top bag, cut out a corner. Squeeze mixture into egg whites. Garnish with tomatoes or olives, if desired.

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eat your veggies (roasted onion and bacon dip)

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There are those people who love vegetables. They want nothing more than a big plate of perfectly steamed broccoli or braised Brussels sprouts. My husband is like this, and so is my mom. These people are lucky.

I don’t hate vegetables. If they’re cooked just right, I find them pretty darn edible. But I’m always more interested in the starch or meat parts of a meal. The vegetables are just there to make me healthy.

Unless, of course, you dip the healthy vegetables in some bacony, sour creamy, mayonnaisey dip. Then I’m on board.

This dip is based on roasted onions and bacon. I love caramelized onions, and roasting did the trick, and at the same time filled my kitchen with the homey smell of cooking onions.

The recipe is originally from Cooks Illustrated, but I’ve adapted it substantially. The original needed more bacon, more salt, and some mayonnaise. Also, the original called for chives, but I had green onions around instead.

Even with all the changes I needed to make, it made those veggies a whole lot more appetizing!

Roasted Onion and Bacon Dip
Makes about 1½ cups

3 medium yellow onions, unpeeled
½ tablespoon olive oil
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and drained, crumbled
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons scallions, chopped fine
½ teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet or with aluminum foil; rub foil with oil. Cut onions in half crosswise (along their equators). Cut an X, about 1-inch deep, in the root and stem ends. Place onions cut side down on baking sheet. Roast until dark brown around bottom edge, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to rack; let onions rest for 5 minutes before peeling off the pan. Let onions cool, then peel and chop fine.

2. Mix all ingredients (including onions) in medium bowl. Serve immediately or chill.

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